A provocative account of the passionate but stormy relationship between a Canadian runaway named Suzanne Mallouk and acclaimed New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988).
In 1980, Mallouk left a dysfunctional home in Canada for New York. With its bold and brashly inventive art scene, the city seemed the perfect place for a girl who wore paper dresses, hid heroin in her beehive hairdo and believed that she “had seen God” in Iggy Pop. Not long after she arrived, she met Basquiat at a dive bar on the Lower East Side. Basquiat immediately moved into Mallouk’s apartment, where he spent his days drawing, masturbating or snorting cocaine. At night, he would often go alone to clubs to pick up boys or girls and disappear with them for days at a time. Despite the unfaithfulness and his drug habit—which Mallouk shared for a time—she still supported the painter, loving him even after he infected her with the pelvic inflammatory disease that would leave her infertile. Basquiat became her addiction. When New York galleries and hipsters like Debbie Harry and Andy Warhol began to discover Basquiat’s “jazz on canvas” paintings, Basquiat would spend his wealth indiscriminately, buying Armani suits only to ruin them with paint and renting limousines so he could throw $100 bills to bums in the street. Fame only made him even more erratic. Mallouk held on, fighting for him with other women, including, most famously, Madonna. Yet in the end, her love proved no match for Basquiat’s addiction to heroin. Not only would the drug destroy their relationship, but also the painter himself. With short, episodic chapters, Clement (Prayers for the Stolen, 2014, etc.) delivers real insight into the life of the brilliant artist as well as the glittering—but ultimately chaotic—world that consumed him.
A disturbing and poetic biography of a talented but massively flawed artist.